EU Business Innovation Funding

Have you applied for your Horizon 2020 grant?

You may be missing out on a substantial amount of extra funding for your research and development projects.

EU Business Innovation Funding tax credit guide

What is Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 is a 7 year long project run by the European Commission that started in 2014:

  • It provides grants to innovation and research projects, drawing from a total budget of £67billion.
  • Its key aim is to ‘stabilise the financial and economic system while taking measures to create economic opportunities’ through ‘excellent science’, ‘industrial leadership’ and tackling ‘societal challenges’.
  • It is designed to further enable Europe to strengthen its worldwide position in these areas and work collaboratively to tackle issues, like sustainability and renewables, which affect us all.

This should avoid duplicate projects being run in different countries simultaneously and take us forward together.

Could this European funding really apply to my SME?

Yes! In sub-section ‘Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies’ of ‘Societal Challenges’, the ‘SME Instrument’ (scheme) is explained. It offers different types of support to “high-potential SMEs” in the development of original advancements that have the potential to be successful worldwide. A total of 3 billion Euros have been earmarked specifically to fund this SME ‘instrument’.

The aim: “The dedicated SME instrument’s supports close-to-market activities, with the aim to give a strong boost to breakthrough innovation. Highly innovative SMEs with a clear commercial ambition and a potential for high growth and internationalisation are the prime target.”

What are the eligibility criteria for SMEs?

  • A consortium or a single SME can apply
  • Must all be for-profit going concerns
  • Must be legally registered in an EU member state or ‘associated Horizon 2020’ country
  • Any other partners, such as a university, do not have to be in the EU or an associated country.

Does this sound like your company?

You could be benefitting from international support, you just need to apply.

This is the different type of ‘phased’ support, that doesn’t just end with a cheque.

The different phases of SME instrument support:

Phase 1: (Optional) Feasibility Phase

  • Aim: “exploring and assessing the technical feasibility and commercial potential of a breakthrough innovation that a company wants to exploit and commercialize.” Eg: market studies, risk assessment.
  • What it’s worth: 50,000 Euro per project
  • Project length: approximately 6 months
  • End result: SMEs can apply for Phase 2 funding if the feasibility study conclusions support continued development

Phase 2: Innovation Project

  • Aim: “ innovation projects underpinned by a sound and strategic business plan (potentially elaborated and partially funded through phase 1 of the SME Instrument).” Eg: pilot lines development, miniaturisation, prototyping (not an exhaustive list)
  • What it’s worth: between 500,000 and 2.5million euro. 70% eligible costs included.
  • Project length:12 to 24 months
  • End result: either a ‘commercialization strategy’ or a new service, product or process that’s read to face the competition.

Phase 3: Commercialisation

  • Aim: “With the view of facilitating the commercial exploitation of the innovation activities resulting from phase 1 or phase 2,…” eg: support for further developing investment readiness, assistance in applying for further EU risk finance, and a range of other innovation support activities and services offered via the Enterprise Europe Network.”
  • What it’s worth: Wherever you take it!

Innovation and Business Development Coaching is also freely available during the first two phases. It aims to support SMEs to make the most of their ‘innovation capacity, match up the innovation project with business strategy and make the best ‘commercial impact’ with an eye on the long game.

How we can help

“Great, another grant application!” no-one said, ever! They take an immense amount of time and effort, without any guarantee of a financial payoff. But you don’t have to do it yourself and just think what you could do with the money!

We will:

  • Use our expert knowledge to confirm if you are eligible to enter this competition, as an initial top priority.
  • Thoroughly catalogue all essential information from your business to satisfy every element of the criteria
  • Write everything in the expected language for maximum clarity and impact
  • Never miss the deadline
  • Keep interruption to your day-to-day business dealings to a minimum
  • Explain our pay structure clearly before we start working together

This European grant has the potential for you to get business advice from some of the top minds in Europe – as well as a cash injection. The quality of the grant proposal is crucial to its success, especially when the competition is Europe wide. But if you’re thinking globally, then why limit yourself to national financing? Let us help you use this opportunity to get your innovations into the global market.


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